Seth Emerson takes a stab at projecting a 2018 depth chart here. And, yeah, while it would be total folly to pretend that anything stitched together in the middle of January is etched in stone (not that Seth’s doing that, of course), it is interesting to see how the talent is accumulating, even before the last bits of this year’s recruiting class are known.
Start with what is going to be the early strength of the defense, the three down linemen and outside linebackers. There is real depth on the line and I’m excited about what Walker and Grant bring to the table in succeeding Bellamy and Carter.
Another position worth drooling over is what Sam Pittman is putting together on the offensive line. It’s a nifty combination of returning experience — four of the starters Emerson projects started on the o-line in 2017 — and burgeoning depth. I expect Salyer to push Kendall Baker hard and the battle to start at right tackle could be epic.
If the line continues to improve, the situation at running back is fine, even with Chubb’s and Michel’s departures. The same can be said at quarterback, at least assuming good health at the position.
If there are wait and see areas, they’re largely in the back six of the defense. It’s hard to know how the interior linebackers will be deployed until Natrez Patrick’s situation is sorted out. Will he be this year’s Ledbetter? That would be great both for him and the defense, but it’s too soon to tell.
As for the secondary, the return of Reed and Baker is huge, no doubt, but there will be a wide open battle to replace Sanders. The wild cards are LeCounte and Gibbs.
G-Day will be fun to watch, but there will be plenty of decisions that will come down to fall camp. The good thing is that it appears Smart will have plenty of viable options.